Rediscovering audio and what may have fallen by the wayside

I’ve been thinking over the last couple days, no idea why really (although somewhat spurred on by a look at the Meridian Audio website) but I started to think about the quality of the music that I listen to. Being quite interested in home cinema (and more recently in audiophile equipment) I realised when I got my latest Sony F3000 amplifier and Monitor Audio Monitor 3 speakers that I was starting to reach the point whereby spending more on kit was useless.

Despite having spent varying amounts on home cinema receivers and even having a NAD amplifier and a pair of Missions quite early on at university (it’s amazing what you can get on eBay second-hand, even *some* years ago) I’ve started to notice a real difference in mp3 bitrate. Not just between say 96kbit/s and 128kbit/s, or 128kbit/s and 192kbit/s, but upwards of that whereby there are differences emerging between 256kbit/s and 320kbit/s. Most audiophiles would probably laugh at the fact that I’m only just able to do that now, but I guess I’ve never really paid enough attention to it until now, nor had good enough pre-amps/power-amps/sources until now.

I guess it really is as they say, garbage-in-garbage-out, but as a long-time geek this poses a problem: I stopped using CD’s around 10 years ago. Most people who jumped on the iPod bandwagon still either have an affiliation to CD’s (and rip the ones they buy straight away) or have a collection that dates up until 2-5 years ago, but I started getting my music in that format way back before most people knew what they were (before 16/32mb portable players were all the rage!). As a result I either have to go and buy all those CD’s again (long since sold when I discovered the joy of LAME encoding) or figure something else out. Whatever solution I go for playback-wise though, to avoid vendor lock-in I think I’m going to have to bite the bullet and get onto Amazon/eBay and hunt down my own back-catalogue.

Then I need a way to play back audio in the easiest possible fashion. Having just gotten an Apple TV if I can create an ALAC library that might be the best way, although a Meridian Sooloos system is the dream…